McCain and Militarism

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Justin Logan argues that John McCain's brand of militaristic nationalism extends to the home front:

In fact, Senator McCain has indicated that not only would he like to unleash the U.S. military on substantial portions of the rest of the world, as president, he would work to militarize American society. In a 2001 article in the Washington Monthly, after lamenting that it was “not currently politically practical to revive the draft,” McCain went on to praise and argue for the expansion of the National Civilian Community Corps, a federally-administered program where volunteers “wear uniforms, work in teams, learn public speaking skills, and gather together for daily calisthenics, often in highly public places such as in front of city hall.”

McCain glowed at the fact that the participants “not only wear uniforms and work in teams…but actually live together in barracks on former military bases.” There is already a place where young people wear federal uniforms, live in military barracks, and gather for calisthenics in front of government buildings: It’s called North Korea.

I assume things won't quite get that bad. One striking fact about American society, however, is that our political culture is shot through with a strain of liberal individualism that tends to deeply effect politicians from both sides of the country's ideological divide. McCain, though, doesn't seem to share it. Instead, he appears to regard the self-sacrifice of the military man not as admirable because it helps protect and sustain a liberal society at home, but because it's actually preferable to have people's lives organized around regimentation, comformity, and sacrifice. Under the circumstances, what normal people might view as the downsides of war are in fact benefits, and the militarization of the home front is desirable as well.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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